The fashion industry in Arkansas is growing, so there’s no better time than now to become a part of the scene. Several things happened in Arkansas over the past several years that changed the way outsiders may look at the fashion scene here. For starters, Little Rock Fashion Week launched in 2009. Since then, this fashion extravaganza has become one of the fastest growing fashion weeks in America. The event is now a major avenue for emerging designers and models to showcase their talents and build their brands. Next, several health agencies have selected Arkansas as a place to spread their message. Easter Seals, for example, sponsored a fashion show to benefit the organization.
In addition to a number of fashion events, Arkansas is home to hundreds of retail venues. You won’t find over-the-top fashions here, but you will find sophisticated styles and trendy looks. You can find shopping malls just about anywhere in the state, but some of the best shopping venues can be found in principle cities such as Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, and North Little Rock.
Career Opportunities & Employers in Arkansas:
Arkansas fashion designers may find work in consulting, production, design, retail, and more. Some have their own brand, while others may land a job working with a seasoned designer or collaborative studio. Fashion merchandisers may find work in product development, production, marketing, and sales (retail and textiles). Many also work in visual merchandising for retail stores or fashion houses. Fashion design and merchandising graduates can find work across the state from downtown Little Rock to Jonesboro.
Arkansas Fashion Schools & Programs:
Not every major fashion designer has a degree, but the chances of making it without one are very slim. If you’re interested in a salaried position, you’ll likely need a two- or four-year degree from an accredited college. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. These schools typically award degrees in both fashion design and fashion merchandising.
Aspiring fashion designers and fashion merchandisers living in Arkansas have access to schools such as University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, NorthWest Arkansas Community College, also in Fayetteville, and Jamileh Kamran Fashion School in Little Rock.
If you’re interested in a career in fashion design or fashion merchandising, enroll in a fashion design or fashion merchandising degree program. If you want start your own business, consider combining your degree with a business or marketing degree. Keep in mind that most universities offer marketing and business degrees, while most art and design schools do not. You can take business courses at another school while completing your fashion program or you can wait until you have completed your degree to enroll in a full-time business or marketing degree program.
For more information about the fashion design and fashion merchandising industries, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at Bls.gov.
Employment and Salary Trends for Arkansas:
As of July 2011, The Bureau of Labor Statistics had not reported salary and employment trends for Arkansas fashion designers or fashion merchandisers. However, visual merchandising is one of the duties associated with fashion merchandising. The state is home to 670 merchandise displayers, up from 250 in 2006.
Overall, employment in the fashion industry is expected to grow by one percent for the 2008-2018 decade. Sewing and cutting jobs may decline as more and more designers and brands choose manufacturing companies overseas. However, employment of fashion designers is stable because many firms prefer to keep design work in house.
As of May 2008, the mean annual wage for fashion designers nationwide was $61,160. The lowest paid fashion designers earned an average annual salary of $32,150 and the highest paid fashion designers earned $124,780 per year. Because many fashion designers are self-employed, salaries may vary greatly. It’s not unusual for a top fashion designer to earn millions per year.
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